Game 80 Preview: New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders (33-35-11, 77 points) vs. New Jersey Devils (45-28-6, 96 points)
7:00 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus
Radio: WFAN 660 A.M.
Tonight the Devils take on the Islanders for their 6th and final meeting of the season. The Devils are leading the series 3-2, with the last win coming on March 10th, when the Devils rallied with just under 2 minutes remaining in regulation for a 2-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend and have nothing to play for at this point except pride, so expect a tough, hard-fought game tonight.
With a spot in the playoffs wrapped up, the Devils will now rest some players. Johan Hedberg will get the start in goal tonight. Hedberg has been stellar so far this season when called upon, going 16-7-2 and recording a shutout in his last start. We shall ride our “Moose to Victory”!!
All indications are that Adam Larsson will be a healthy scratch again, but with the Devils playing well, it will most likely be a game time decision. Peter Harrold has stepped in and has been very reliable defensively.
The big guns are getting hot at just the right time, meaning Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Kovalchuk has five points over the last two games and Parise has points in three of the last four games, including goals in three of his last five. Considering that both players were riding cold streaks just a few short weeks ago, this is a big deal for the Devils. It is imperative that both players stay hot over the final 3 regular season games, and carry that into the playoffs if New Jersey is going to make any noise.
After failing to make the postseason for the first time since 1996 last season, the Devils are officially headed back to the playoffs after a dominating performance over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. With this being the final week of the season, it’s just a matter of where they will finish. With a win tonight and an Ottawa loss, the Devils will clinch the 6th seed.
Devils projected lineup:
Parise – Zajac – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Henrique – Clarkson
Carter – Josefson – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Zidlicky
Volchenkov – Harrold
Islanders projected lineup:
Moulson – Tavares – Parenteau
Ullstrom – Nielsen – Bailey
Grabner – Cizikas – Okposo
Niederreiter – Reasoner – Pandolfo
Streit – Staios
Hamonic – MacDonald
Eaton – Jurcina